Is it time Italy got tough on racism?

by Tony Alvarez

Friday, November 19th, 2010
 

By Laurie Fitzgerald

When it comes to dealing with racism within football, it’s important to notice what are isolated incidents and what are consistently occurring.

While racism may still exist in English football (without having evidence, its difficult to state otherwise) at least there is a concerted effort being made by the national governing bodies (Football Association, Premier League, Football League) with its ‘Kick Racism out of Football’ campaign.

However, the same cannot be said for some countries throughout Europe. One of the worst that suffers from this appalling form of discrimination is Italy.

Its main victim comes in the form of young Mario Balotelli. The young Manchester City striker once again faced racist abuse during Italy’s 1-1 draw with Romania, with about 100 right-wing extreme Italian fans targeting the 20 year-old due to the colour of his skin.

It wasn’t just booing that he was subjected to; there was a banner within the HypoArena stadium in Austria, where the friendly took place, stating; “no to a multi-ethnic national team.”

Now it’s obvious that this is a problem stemming from the minority within Italy. As Balotelli said after the game, “Where I live, the people don’t reason like these people. A multi-ethnic Italy already exists and we can do better.”

But this is not an isolated incident, certainly not for Balotelli. In April last year, he was taunted with racist chants from Juventus fans during a game between his former club Inter Milan and the Turin giants. One of these chants was along the lines of, “a black Italian does not exist.”

The punishment? Juve were ordered by the Italian FA to play their next home game behind closed doors. But are these sorts of punishments strict enough?

By handing such a minor punishment, it indicates to the public that the Italian FA only views it as a minor problem, which is surely not the case. Therefore, the need to get tougher in dealing with these racists is increasing.

While home games behind closed doors will hurt the revenue of a club, attendances aren’t sell-outs at the best of times, with many fans watching Italian football from the comfort of their own homes. The majority of their money is made through television deals.

While harming their television deals may lead to a huge legal battle, how about hurting them on the pitch with point deductions? Surely this will have more of an impact on the clubs to do something about the issue.

When it comes to these extremists, they probably won’t be affected by whether or not their clubs face harsher punishments. But it will make the clubs themselves more determined from preventing them from entering stadiums and airing their sick opinions to those who have no time for them.

Of course Italy isn’t the only country dealing with racism. Who can forget the goodbye that Russian fans gave to Peter Odemwingie when he left Lokomotiv Moscow for West Brom, when Lokomotiv fans unfurled a banner with a banana on it saying “thanks West Brom.” But harsher punishments can help go a long way to stopping racism maintaining an unwanted place within football.

Leave a comment and let me and other football lovers know what you think.

 Please read the comments from other fans and see if you agree with their points.

Also to read more from me visit my blog www.shoutsfromthestands.wordpress.com

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  • Randy

    I agree with the protesting supporters I dont believe in a multi ethnic team but not for any racist reasons I simply don’t want national teams to turn into club teams!
    I’m Italian and I want to be represented by Italians!!
    NO Ballotelli!!
    NO Amauri!!
    NO Ledesma!!
    Ask someone from Ghana how he feels about Ballotelli playing for Italy?
    Africa will never win a world cup as long as rich European countries keep poaching there stars!

  • Bobby

    its not just racism in the Italian game, it’s hooliganism too, they need to banned from Europe, and from Euro 2012, simple as, if it was England we would have been banned years ago

  • Sam

    I agree with the protesting supporters I dont believe in a multi ethnic team but not for any racist reasons I simply don’t want national teams to turn into club teams!
    I’m Italian and I want to be represented by Italians!!
    NO Amauri!!
    NO Ledesma!!

  • http://shoutsfromthestands.wordpress.com/ Tony Alvarez

    Randy I can see your point I don’t completly agree with it but I understand you do not want players playing for the national side who are not Italian eg Deco for Portugal or Eduardo for Croatia.
    However, I think in Balotelli’s case its very different he was born in Italy raised in Italy and has never even been to Africa.
    I’m sure the same protesting supporters were not kicking up too much of a fuss when he was paying his taxes into the Italian system.
    I also agree with you Bobby looking from the outside the whole system in Italy seems to be wrong and their seems to be a lot of fear of violence, but i think in these modern days none of the big nations will ever be banned unless they do something ridiculous.
    I also forgot to mention in the post that this will quite possibly be my last post on Dexy’s Den so to read more from me make sure your regulary visit or bookmark my blog.
    http://www.shoutsfromthestands.wordpress.com
    Thanks for your contributions

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